CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION
matters, including content, as conditions of contributing funds or services. 75
This section summarizes the ACCME standards with which CME providers
must comply to obtain accreditation, develop a CME topic, and solicit funds
from industry sponsors. It also highlights the deficiencies in the ACCME’s
standards and enforcement processes.
1. Obtaining Accreditation
For a CME provider to be able to give CME credits to physicians, the
provider must first obtain ACCME “accreditation.” 76 The ACCME
accreditation standards contain provisions to ensure that CME is
independent, based on valid content, and contributes to health care
improvement for patients. 77 The ACCME accredits hundreds of CME
providers, most of which are physician membership organizations,
publishing/education companies, medical schools, and healthcare delivery
systems. 78 One of the primary requirements for eligibility is that the
organization applying for accreditation not be a “commercial interest,”
defined as any entity producing, marketing, reselling, or distributing
healthcare goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. 79 This
policy seeks to ensure that organizations developing CME stay district from
entities with commercial interests in healthcare goods or services. 80 A
CME provider also cannot advocate for a commercial interest, have a parent
company that advocates for a commercial interest, or have a sister company
that advocates for a commercial interest or is a commercial interest. 81 If an
75. See ACCME STANDARDS FOR COMMERCIAL SUPPORT, supra note 10, para. 3. 2.
76. See PHRMA CODE, supra note 17, at 6. Pharmaceutical and device manufacturers
need not obtain accreditation to sponsor their own programs as part of so-called “non-CME”
or “informational presentations.” Id. At these events, a drug company through a speaker has
free rein to say whatever it wants – subject to the restrictions in the PhRMA Code, which is a
voluntary code, and in the FDCA, Anti-Kickback Statute, and FCA. Id. While these
financial interactions between industry and physicians present issues of reliability and bias
for information presented to physicians, an in depth discussion of non-accredited CME
activities is beyond the scope of this paper. Id.
77. ACCME STANDARDS FOR COMMERCIAL SUPPORT, supra note 10.
78. BERNARD LO & MARILYN J. FIELD, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN MEDICAL RESEARCH,
EDUCATION, AND PRACTICE 140 (2009) (noting that ACCME had 740 accredited CME
providers in 2008).
79. See Accreditation Council for Continuing Med. Educ., Definition of a Commercial
ders/policies-and-definitions/definition-commercial-interest (last visited Nov. 26, 2013).
80. Accreditation Council for Continuing Med. Educ., Determining Your Eligibility,
eligibility (last visited Nov. 26, 2013).
81. Accreditation Council for Continuing Med. Educ., See How Can I Determine if My
Organization is a Commercial Interest?, http://accme.org/printpdf/ask-accme/how-can-i-